Rwanda is the best place to be a mother in the East African community, Save the Children has said.
In a survey, released last week, the charity assesses the capacity of 179 countries worldwide based on five indicators related to maternal health, education, income levels and the status of women.
Rwanda ranks top in East Africa and 121st at the global level.
Tanzania came in second position in East Africa (136 globally), Kenya 138, Uganda emerged fourth at 141st position and Burundi came last among in the East African Community (EAC) at 147th position globally.
Rwanda and Tanzania are the only EAC countries not labelled in the report as “fragile.”
Commenting on the report, Beatrice Mukasine, chairperson of the National Women Council, told journalists last week that Rwanda has significantly ensured the safety of mothers and women in general.
“The findings should have at least ranked Rwanda among top countries in the world that are best places to be a mother. The position at which our country was put on is far from the reality on the ground,” Mukasine said.
She said Rwanda has strengthened its healthcare system, which has enabled mothers to have greater access to skilled birth attendants.
According to the report, Mauritius, which is in the 54th position globally, is the best place to be a mother in Africa followed by Libya, Tunisia and Angola.
Norway ranks as the world’s best place to be a mother, followed by Finland and Iceland.
The post-Genocide Rwanda has considerably created favourable conditions for women, who comprise 52 per cent of the population.
A similar report Save the Children released last year indicated that Rwanda was the only East African country experiencing extremely fast rates of reduction in maternal mortality rates.
The country is among the few sub-Saharan African nations on track to achieve Millennium Development Goals number four and five.
Malawi and Ethiopia are also on the list of African countries on the right track.
Rwanda’s achievements in health outcomes are linked to improvements across a range of sectors and programmes, including the National Social Protection Strategy and significant progress in water, sanitation, education and gender equality.
The country has increased health spending to 6 per cent of GDP, far beyond the average of 2 per cent in other sub-Saharan African countries.
Dr Fidel Ngabo, the coordinator of maternal and child health at the Ministry of Health, said establishment of more hospitals and maternities over the years is responsible for reduction of maternal deaths.
He said more women are also having safe births from health facilities and sleep under insecticide treated mosquito nets.
Dr Ngabo said community health workers have also helped a great deal as they offer help to pregnant women.
Justin Mukankusi, a mother of three from Bugesera District, attributes the improvement in maternal health locally to the introduction of Rapid SMS, a phone application used to remind community health workers to report cases of pregnant mothers, malnutrition, and co-ordination of vaccination programmes, among other things, not only to health centres but also the Ministry of Health.